Inner and Outer Life Skills Retreat Day at Santa Fe Mountain Center: Team Building for Pojoaque Valley Middle School Participants

Annually, Inner and Outer Life Skills (IOLS) Groups are offered in at least ten Northern New Mexico schools, concentrating mainly in the Santa Fe Public Schools. These 8-10 week groups use a responsive curriculum designed to help students enhance internal and external resources necessary to be resilient, thereby reducing suicide risk. Strategies include five key components: social connection, self-regulation, mindful awareness, optimism, and physical activity in nature. This fall’s IOLS groups in Pojoaque Valley Middle School had the opportunity to spend a day engaging in all of these strategies due to the generosity of the Santa Fe Mountain Center who facilitated the retreat. Shown here are students climbing the SFMC climbing wall.


Natural Helpers: Santa Fe Middle School Students Offer their Kindness and Courage to Peers in Need

Close to 180 middle school students were trained at Bishop’s Ridge Camp Stony (Santa Fe, NM) this fall during The Sky Center’s peer-helping-peer program’s fall retreats. Natural Helpers Coordinator, Grietje Laga, led students in trainings designed to help the trainees notice the warning signs and risk factors for suicide and take direct action to connect at-risk peers to concrete resources. During Natural Helpers’ retreats, a safe space to discuss behavioral health issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, risky behaviors and self-harm is created so that these youth helpers can feel supports and prepared for the noble task they have chosen to undertake. In addition to this grounding in basic helping strategies to keep their peers out of harm’s way, trainees receive instruction in how to care for the self so as to avoid the risk of secondary trauma while simultaneously building their own toolbox for resiliency. Values of tolerance, inclusion and empathy are strengthened and embodied in this youth group who stands up for the most vulnerable in their school communities.ortiz-4




Mindful Education Santa Fe and Rio Grande Mindfulness Institute: Retreat for Educators and Teachers

In light of the abundance of research strongly suggesting the benefits of mindful awareness practices for well-being, these strategies are interwoven throughout The Sky Center’s suicide prevention programming. For the past three years, in collaboration with Santa Fe Public School staff, The Sky Center has developed a seventh prevention program, Mindful Education Santa Fe, in order to provide another circle of safety to students who may be vulnerable to suicide. This past October, this initiative included a first-time collaboration with the Rio Grande Mindfulness Institute to offer a half-day retreat for educators and counselors. Henry Shukman, guiding teacher and spiritual director at Mountain Cloud Zen Center, led a full house in mindfulness exercises and discussed the importance of having a “full cup” in order to be most effective with those we serve as educators and counselors. Guided meditation and walking meditation periods were punctuated with time to ask questions, offer thoughts and feedback, and discuss what’s next for mindful education in New Mexico. To learn more about Mindful Education Santa Fe, and how you might become involved, please follow this link to the page describing these services:



Where there is help, there is hope.